Tuesday, January 25, 2011

City of lights : take two

The first time I was in Paris it was marred by some unfortunate circumstances. First, our hotel was located wayyyy outside the actual city, in the commercial district of La Defense. This posed two shortcomings: the first was that the area the hotel was in was definitely nothing to write home about, and two the metro ride from the la defense station took about an hour and 15 minutes just to get to the Louvre. It was a commuter train so it stopped maybe about 12 times before we even got across the seine.

This time around this was not the case in the slightest.

We would call the Color Design Hotel on Rue de Citeaux in the Bastille district or humble abode for the weekend. Which if it were any more central we would have been able to throw a rock and hit Notre Dame. I have walked so much in the past few days it feels like my feet are no longer a part of my body. From the Eiffel tower all the way down Rue de Rivoli, through la morais, to Bastille, and everywhere in between. I have eaten incredible, wholesome, foods. The crustiest, freshly baked pain au chocolat. Some seriously smelly, but undeniably delicious, french cheese. The most brilliant, lustrous pink and mauve yellow duck foie gras. Chateau neuf-du-pape, Bordeaux, dujac-morey, languedoc, and Puilly-fuisse. It was a whirlwind of amazing food, wine, art, sights, people, language, and culture.

(the aforementioned foie gras)

Seeing my homeboys in the Louvre again was a sight for sore, trodden eyes as well. Although, nothing will ever compare to the rush felt when I walked into the room full of Louis David and haphazardly turned around only to find myself face-to-face with Ingres' "odalesque". However, I did get somewhere close to that while inside the Muse d'Orsay and me and Mr. Manet's "Olympia" were formally introduced. Amidst all the Corot, Vuillard, Gaugin, Van Gogh, Bonnard, Monet, Lautrec, Degas, Renoir, and so many more I'm surprised I could even remember that many.

France is so rich in things that I hold up higher than breathing sometimes.

I can't even begin to think about my disgust at being back in the states. Well perhaps disgust is too strong a term. It'll be like anyone coming home from a vacation, they're not happy about it. Except this time I've got the bug and I've got it bad...

Seriously, how can i look at this picture (above, from the rooftop of the arch de triumph) and not feel slightly dissatisfied about coming home. I want to be challenged every day to speak another language and function within a culture that is not my own. I want to be able to pop on the metro and hit the louvre after lunch. To drink amazing wines CHEAP! To ride a bike around city streets that have more history than my book in high school.

Above all, I want to live an inspired life. One without the monotony of routine, in particular the routine I have become accustomed to over the past 8 months. I need newness again.

I'll write more in a bit, I feel like I'm slightly still in shock. Both from being ripped out of this place to oblige flight times and, well, just the entire melee of this trip.

Location:Bastille - Rue de Citeaux

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Having a bad day?

Funniest thing I have ever seen. Thank you Dutch people.


Seriously though, how the hell do you find your schwin in that mess?

Location:Amsterdam centraal

Second leg

Again I find myself seated in a train on another beautiful, crisp morning heading back towards Germany and ultimately the city of lights. Though Amsterdam wasn't filled with the adolescent wonder it was when I was but the age of 22, I managed to eek out a good time (sarcasm).

While standing on platform 4b waiting for this train I'm currently riding it was hard to not think about how soon I must return to my plot of reality. I'm thinking when I get home that the first thing I'm going to do is start researching travel based jobs. I could live the rest of my life in transit. I mean, that's not to say I don't enjoy staying in one place or being a body at rest, but I feel this crazy sense of allure and attraction towards travel. Maybe get some ideas together and make a proposal to the right people and put together some sort of legitimized travel blog? Or hell, even some kind of show, whether based online or syndicated on tv. I almost just laughed aloud as I wrote that.

If I could somehow enable myself to travel the globe and see the far corners of civilization...well that'd be just grand.

Ideas are welcome.

Location:ICE 1184 Amsterdam to Emmerich

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dutch condiments

Day 1.5 in Amsterdam

After a nice train ride/tram trip to get to our flat in Amsterdam my brother and I set out on a town I once visited back when i was 22. Just about his age actually, seeing that he turns 23 on Saturday. When we first walked out of Amsterdam central station I was eager to see the main square I remember walking out on. Flanked with massive multiple-level bike lots and little tram and bus stations, I remember looking out at huge government buildings, the hotel Victoria, heieneken and amstel signs everywhere, about to set out to find our hostel at approx 8am. This time, things were a little different. There was a massive construction zone directly in front of the station, which definitely changed the aesthetics considerably. When I travel, I am constantly moving. Something I've come to not about myself more this trip than any other. I suppose part of that is due to the fact that I'm traveling this time with someone who can't keep up (nameless).

Note to self: always travel with able bodies.

Once unpacked at our flat, the brosef and I set out to check out the sights and sounds of this crazy city, hitting my former first stop, The Bulldog, for some good coffee, a bite to eat, and some Dutch condiments:)
We then walked around town for probably about an hour or so, just walking for the sake of being in a foreign land and relishing in it. Also, maybe because of the potency of these said Dutch condiments and the fact that I haven't been putting too much on my sandwiches anymore (still with me?). We finally dragged our wanderings back to the flat and crashed.

This morning we strolled down and got some coffee in the midst of the morning commute of bicycles and cars alike. This cat was hanging out in the coffee shop too, so we made friends and decided we could inhabit the place together for a bit.
Later we went to the Rijksmuseum which was nothing short of epic. I got chills on several occasions when you pass by a partition and turn to look at what's hanging on the reverse side only to find yourself looking Rembrandt's "Jan Six" dead in the eyes. Or you stumble onto Vermeer's Amsterdam street corner. The Night Watch? Really? And all this before the Van Gogh museum? And lunch? Jesus age Christ, I still have a couple dueling giants in Paris to deal with (the big L, d'orsay).

Oh yeah, I think somewhere in this whirlwind the heineken brewery tour was thrown into the mix.

Needless to say, already it's been a long day of walking, drinking in art, drinking in beers, sights, sounds, bike bells, chirping walk signals, Dutch, French, German, Italian. I still have to go out tonight with little brother so he can see the red light district and so we can hit up the grasshopper and broadway (comes highly recommended). Im chomping down for a second wind right about now.

Tomorrow we're back to Germany and then to Paris for a birthday dinner and another day filled with art walking, good thing Amsterdam doesn't have an eiffel tower, I'd be fucked.

Location:78 Constrastraat

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Planes, trains and...trains

Train travel in Europe has so much more appeal than in the states. Maybe because I don't look at the grime on the platforms or random puddles in the same way. At home clearly it's piss and clearly its a disgusting smelly metro ride on the orange line to Malden. Here it's all still categorized in the feelings of wonder about every new space I encounter. So weird eh? That just because I'm abroad and not home that something that is undeniably gross could get shrugged off as easily as a cold wind with a winter jacket.

I swear I smoke more cigarettes waiting for trains than any place else, save a long car ride perhaps. Add a cup of hot coffee in one free hand and its an inevitable result.

Even though I'm not traveling alone I still get to steal some moments by myself which tend to be quite exquisite. Not that I don't enjoy the time spent with my brother, quite the opposite actually. He and I could thrive together here if that became our situation. It is, unfortunately the polar opposite wi my aunt. And again, to forego any confusion, I love my aunt dearly and would never want to trade her with any other aunt...however travel with her when abroad can be quite difficult. I think to keep this lighter hearted in general, we'll skip a discourse in the "why".

I think half the fun of travel in Europe, especially in a non-romance language speaking country, is the whole "puzzle" aspect of the endeavor. This whole rush of getting there, figuring everything out on the fly, asking helpful (and not so helpful) natives for a little bail out advice. It's just plain exciting. We know where we're trying to get to but its the process of figuring out that how that's really great.

Maybe thats another part of the whole intrigue of travel in Europe. In the states it's so easy and routine that it takes as much thought as a morning dump to get from A to B. I could get to Boston from Rockport if i was in a coma. So that would make euro-travel just shy of being on the level with amphetamine-induced mania.

Sounds pretty much like my day-to-day.

Location:Dortmund hbf, duisburg hbf, Amsterdam

Monday, January 17, 2011

Germans love sparkling apple juice


But with good reason it's goddamn amazing!
I pounded one of these bad Larry's on the metro in seconds and it was outstanding .

Now I'm eating emanthaller Swiss with this apple delight

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